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Holly Lamont - Sept. 21, 2014
I am a stage IV breast cancer patient living in Reading, Pa. I am 40 with a loving husband and an 11 year old daughter and 5 year old son. I have cancer in my lymph nodes, bones, liver, lungs and now brain. It has been three years since my diagnosis. I have outlived the statistics. My hope is to continue to beat the odds. I need to beat the odds for my family. I have just finished radiation on my brain- hair fell out for the third time and I will start back on chemo this coming week. Because of all of this I had to retire from my teaching career after 16 years in the classroom. That wa s tough, but needed to happen. Life is different. But it is life. I am breathing and alive. And I hope I can stay that way for a while!
Laurie - Oct. 10, 2013
As I write this, my mom is going through her second Chemo treatment.
One month ago our world was turned upside down. My sister and I were told that our mom has triple negative stage 4 breast cancer. The whirlwind of events that have taken place since that day in August have left us all drained and stressed. We try to hide it from Mom because she does not need the stress while fighting this horrible disease, but we can see the stress on her face too.
I would like to start by saying my mother, Sue, is a wonderful person. She has always been there to help my sister and I through some rough times and never complained. Now when she needs us most, we are trying to be there to take of everything for her.
In the last few weeks we have been on an emotional roller coaster. First, we found out there were three lumps, and then she went to a specialist and had a mammogram. They came back and said it was cancer. Then came the biopsy, and we found out it was malignant. The doctor said it was a very treatable kind of cancer. So then it was off to get a PET scan within 3 days. Then we all went to the oncologist and found out that it was all over. There was a large mass on her right side and in two lymph nodes under her arm and a small one on her esophagus. They said stage 4 and my heart sunk. They then said Chemotherapy just to get it under control and keep her alive longer. They would not be able to cure her. He wanted to start Chemotherapy right away. He scheduled her for surgery to insert a pick so they would not have to put in an IV every week. The surgery went well, or so we thought. By the next afternoon she was in the hospital with a collapsed lung. They were able to insert a c hest tube and slowly get the lung back up and working. After three days in the hospital she came home. Things were very uneventful for three days, then we had to go in and have the chest tube removed. All went well, and the next day we started chemo. It was a long day; first she had x-rays to make sure the lungs were ok. Then, they did blood work ups to make sure her counts were ok and to check her potassium levels. They were then ready for her treatment. Now a week later we are on the second treatment. They have not said how long this will go on, but I imagine for quite a while.
Fran Tornabene - Sept. 25,2014
In January of 2001, I while getting ready for work, I noticed that half of my face was numb, as though I had been to the dentist. As the progressed so did the numbness, which was also contorting my face. So I went in to the family practice clinic, at this time I was just 49. The young female doctor confirmed that I had bells palsy, and then she started to do a breast exam, lo and behold, she found a lump that I evidently had missed. She explained that sometimes Bells will in some way be connected to something else. She was right and we scheduled the lumpectomy, which was fine, and afterward I had numerous chemo treatments and then about 50 days of radiation. I took tamoxifen, (then changed as new or different hormone blockers came along), for 7 years. I happily celebrated Mar. 7th yearly as my cancer-free day! Then, in 2013 I got a cold, or was it hay fever, or pneumonia... Well as I was sent in for an x-ray of my lungs. Yes, I had pleural effusion, and by the way, the tech questioned my clavicle. upon comparison to a year before, when checking for arthritis, there was a gross difference. My doctor showed me and it was clear I was in trouble. My maternal grandmother, great aunt, and aunt, all had breast, my aunt went in to mesothelioma, however the other two had mbc, so in a way, I sort of thought the other shoe would one drop for me. And it did. After they drained my lungs, there were x-rays, scans, MRI's, and a bone biopsy.
I was diagnosed with MBC, which has attacked my liver, lungs, and all my bones. Chemo would be the same as taking a hormone blocker, along with a monthly infusion of zometa, to strengthen my bones. I also take an antidepressant, a couple of heavy pain killers daily, to allow me a quality of life status. This afternoon, I had a block injected into my neck, to help relieve that pain, as oppose to increasing my Methadone and Oxcycodone. I am 62, and my only child is 42, and thankfully married to a fabulous woman. IBM, 'retired' me when they outsourced my job.
So, I filed for disability and am bleeding my savings. What else can I do?
I have a really great group of girlfriends, and we go to plays, concerts, movies, and whatever else looks interesting. As I live in Chicago, there are many options available. I stay away from steps as much as possible and don't hesitate to reach out for a friend's arm when I feel unsteady. The way I see it, I have 2 options, either stay in bed and cry, or cry occasionally, and go to enjoy what's left of my time.
I choose to accept the latter.
Diane - Oct. 17, 2013
I was diagnosed in August 2008 with breast cancer, I was 49. My tumor was ER+/PR+ HER2-. I had a port put in to prepare for chemo. I had 1 chemo treatment and got Sepsis, nearly died. They dug the port out of my chest and left a big wound. Had numerous complications and then radiation. I lived. I went back to work.
Then it came back in 2010. Metastatic disease. A lymph node in my chest and a spot on my femur. My Doctor said I needed a new port put in. Decided to have a panic attack first. 2 days in the hospital. I had chemo, some neuropathy, was OK.
2012 it came back again, 2 bone mets. Stereo Tactic Radiation for them. Easy.
However, after having cancer in '08, '10, '12, 2014 had me terrified.
SURPRISE! Instead of getting me in 2014, it got me not once, but twice in 2013. Found an 8mm tumor deep in same breast, but different, ER-/PR- HER2+. New primary cancer. Bi-lateral mastectomy. Doctor was getting me all set up for chemo when I said "I have this spot that is bothering me." Another PET scan, more bone mets. he took my case to the tumor board and they said my "survivability" would be better served by Faslodex and Herceptin. No chemo. At this time.
I asked him if this meant I had 2 different kinds of breast cancer in me and he said yes. He also said there was a chance the surgery cured the hormone negative cancer, but I still had the hormone positive cancer.
2014 is just around the corner.... cue music from "JAWS."
Laura--As I typed this on Oct. 7th I literally heard the music from Jaws in my head. Little did I know... Oct. 8 had terrible
abdominal pain. Oct. 10 had to have gallbladder out.
Our First Response - Clara
I was DX with stage four METASTATIC breast cancer.in 10/2011. I was devasted. It just didn't run in our family. My husband had lost his job the year before, and I was dealing with a chronic blood clot in my leg. As happens with a loss of income, we used up our saving and didn't have insurance. I started having pains in my lower back. I went to the Dr.and was told it was sciatic nerve. I took Tylenol and put up with the pain. When October came, I called local cancer org, and was told I didn't qualify for a free mammogram. I went to hospital because, it got worse. I couldnt walk on my own. I lied and told them I fell in the bath tub, so they would do a CT scan. It came back Mets on my spine. The Dr. said he didn't know where it came from. He Felt both breasts and couldn't find anything. He gave me a paper on a local charity, and sent me home. I went to the local Catholic hospital the next morning, and that's when I found out. I have Mets on my spine, femurs, ribs. It's been two years, and I wouldn't have made it without the meds to fight the CANCER. The problem is, after you take the meds awhile, you get immune to them, so, we need more, to be able to live as long as we can. My bones are like chalk. I was changing clothes and felt and HEARED MY FEMUR break. I just sat on the bed and called an ambulance. That's what we face every day. We don't know what is going to happen. I have three children and six grandkids . I would like to live long enough for them to remember me. My husband is my rock. We have been married forty-two years. I PRAY to God everyday, that they will find a CURE, or at least give us a chance with new meds to live longer. I was 55 yrs.old when DX. Clara